USNA Welcomes Spring 2023 Brigade Commander
POSTED ON: Thursday, January 12, 2023 11:00 AM by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sarah Thielen
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Each academic semester, a new brigade commander is selected to lead more than 4,400 midshipmen within the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Brigade of Midshipmen. Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Michael Castellanos, from Ohio, has been selected to lead the brigade for the spring 2023 semester.
Castellanos comes from a family of military service to include his grandfather, father, uncle, and cousins. Although he wasn’t sure what path he would take after high school, his family encouraged him to visit the academy, leading him to attend a summer seminar session.
“I remember back to the first night when we sang the Navy Blue and Gold, our alma mater,” said Castellanos. “I immediately went back to my room to text my mom and tell her that this is where I wanted to go. I had all my eggs in the Naval Academy basket.”
As part of the Class of 2023, Castellanos and his fellow midshipmen faced a unique plebe year, which included the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can't think of many classes in recent Naval Academy history that have faced as much adversity as we have as a class,” he said. “I'm really looking forward to the prospect of being able to finish out strong and close the book of our class’s story. I want us to be able to end on a high note so that we can leave a legacy behind that we were resilient men and women of character who were able to bounce back from some adverse conditions.”
Despite the hardships and struggles that come along with being a midshipman, he believes this environment shapes high-caliber individuals.
“In terms of physical, mental, moral, and professional performance, this place demands so much of you,” he said.
The brigade commander holds the highest midshipman leadership position, charged with leading the more than 4,400 students who make up the Brigade of Midshipmen. By instruction, the duties of a brigade commander include executing the policies set forth by Commandant of Midshipmen Col. J.P. McDonough and being responsible for maintaining efficiency and morale throughout the Brigade of Midshipmen.
One of Castellanos’ mentors, Marine Corps Maj. Jonathan Brown, an instructor in the weapons, robotics, and control engineering department, believes that Castellanos will forever give so much of himself in service to others, making him well-suited to lead the brigade.
“Mike Castellanos possesses one of the most unrelenting and focused work ethics of any midshipmen I have known at the Naval Academy,” Brown said. “He completes tasks with purpose, creativity, and discipline while pursuing experiences that will test and stretch him. The latter portion of that statement sets Midshipman Castellanos apart. He is not interested in the comfortable life but sets a high bar as an individual who seeks physical, mental, and emotional testing in order to learn from both success and failure. In so doing, he shows humility and maturity by being willing to acknowledge his mistakes and apply lessons learned to future challenges.”
His selection as brigade commander still hasn’t sunk in, but he feels humbled to have this opportunity to lead and believes it will be one of the most incredible experiences he will ever have.
“My vision is for everyone to be excited to be here,” said Castellanos. “I love being here at the Naval Academy, and I want everyone else to feel that same way. I want them to feel the excitement of what comes next, and understand that behind our daily actions and what may seem obsolete or mundane in the moment, there is a purpose to it all. At the end of the day, I think what's most important is having the ability to be a good human being.”
As part of 6th Company, and formerly part of 14th Company, Castellanos credits his classmates for helping shape the goals he has moving forward as brigade commander.
“We are all extremely close, and being around such incredible and high performing classmates has made me want to be better,” he said. “Having those classmates to pull me through during the toughest times has been something I’m grateful for. There are a lot of small things we all can do throughout the day to make other people’s lives easier.”
Two such people who have always gone above and beyond for him are his best friends, Midshipman 1st Class Charlie Sewell and Midshipman 1st Class Madeline Cashion. Sewell, the leadership conference chair, and Cashion, the former 4th battalion commander, are extremely accomplished midshipmen themselves and have been at his side since the very first day of plebe summer.
“There is no shot I would be in this position without them,” he said. “I am grateful for the key role they have played in helping me to become the man I am today.”
As Castellanos takes on the endeavor of being brigade commander, there is one mantra he takes to heart: excellence without arrogance.
“I want us to be a brigade that is excellent and brilliant in the basics,” he said. “Arrogance has no place here.”
For more information about the Naval Academy, please see www.usna.edu or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavalAcademy.
Category: General Interest, Midshipman